White Sox

White Sox Talk Podcast: Will this be a breakout season for Yoan Moncada?

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Will this be a breakout season for Yoan Moncada?

Chuck Garfien and Chris Kamka come to you from spring training where they discuss if 2019 will be a breakout season for Moncada (1:20).

Chuck spoke about Moncada with Jose Abreu (4:00), Yonder Alonso (7:20), and hitting coach Todd Steverson (11:50). Kamka provides a whole bunch of Moncada stats throughout the podcast. Chuck and Chris also discuss Carlos Rodon being named the Opening Day starter (20:30) and more.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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2019 MLB preview and predictions: How the White Sox stack up against the Kansas City Royals

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USA TODAY

2019 MLB preview and predictions: How the White Sox stack up against the Kansas City Royals

As the 2019 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.

Woo boy, the Royals.

If you were busy soaking in the 100-loss White Sox in 2018, you missed out on all but 19 games of the 104-loss Royals, who kept the South Siders from finishing in the AL Central's basement. At this point, they're almost unrecognizable from the team that won the World Series just four years ago, with no Hosmers or Cains or Moustakii to be found. Even Salvador Perez had a horrible year from an on-base standpoint last season (.274), and he'll miss all of the 2019 campaign while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The only familiar face from those Royals teams of yore is Alex Gordon, who despite being one of the better and more important players in franchise history has slashed just .225/.310/.355 over the last three seasons. But the back-to-back Gold Gloves, the fifth and sixth of his career, are nice.

It seems hope is in short supply, with the Royals already embarking on another rebuild not long after the last one yielded back-to-back AL pennants. It's not exactly the worst-case scenario for a rebuilding team like the White Sox — the Royals did win the World Series, after all — but it begs the question of how much success is needed to justify a complete teardown. In other words, if the White Sox are in the same spot they're in now in another, let's say, six years but they won a World Series, how will fans feel about that? I'm guessing the championship will make just about anything go down smooth.

But the Crowns are now further behind in their current rebuilding effort than the White Sox ever were during this process, which speaks to how much talent Rick Hahn was able to accumulate in a relatively short period of time. The Royals didn't have the Chris Sales and Jose Quintanas to deal away for big-time prospect packages. They have just one top-100 prospect, Brady Singer, last summer's first-round pick. But they should be able to add another name to that list (and likely to the top of it) this summer, when they have the No. 2 pick in the draft, one spot ahead of the White Sox.

As for how they look for 2019, it ain't pretty. Perez's injury takes out one of their two good position players. The other, Whit Merrifield, got a contract extension this winter and is under team control for at least four more seasons and possibly a fifth. It kind of looked like he would be good trade bait this offseason, but the Royals went the other way. But that decision — attaching four or five years of team control — could make Merrifield an even more attractive trade candidate down the road, perhaps as early as this summer's deadline. Merrifield is already 30, but he's been very good in recent seasons, leading baseball with 192 hits and 45 stolen bases last season. He finished in the top 20 in AL MVP voting last season thanks to those numbers and a .304/.367/.438 slash line and 43 doubles.

But past Merrifield, there isn't much to be excited about. Gordon and his .355 slugging percentage since 2016 sit in the No. 3 spot in the batting order, and it's former Cubs prospect Jorge Soler behind him. Soler played in just 61 games last season and hit nine homers. Hunter Dozier, Brian Goodwin and Adalberto Mondesi are also players who play for the Royals. As for new additions, the Crowns added multiple players who can run fast and do very little else in Billy Hamilton (130 strikeouts for the second straight season) and Terrance Gore (one career hit in 63 career games).

Well, if that lineup doesn't have you shaking in your boots, there's seemingly even less of a threat coming from the pitching staff. Danny Duffy and his very meh 4.09 career ERA against the White Sox still sit at the top of the Kansas City rotation, but his 2019 debut could be delayed while he spends a little time getting back to full health. So it'll be Brad Keller on Opening Day. Keller split time between the rotation and the bullpen last season, turning in a very good season. But know that he was better as a reliever (2.01 ERA) than as a starter (3.28 ERA, still good). Jakob Junis' 32 home runs allowed surprisingly weren't the most in the American League, nor in the AL Central. Dylan Bundy gave up 41 of them and James Shields gave up 34 to claim those two designations. Ian Kennedy's 4.66 ERA in 2018 was much better than his 5.38 ERA in 2017 but not as good as his 3.68 ERA in 2016. What a tenure he's had in KCMO. Brad Boxberger seemed like a good addition to the bullpen, and he has saved a combined 73 games in the two previous seasons he's worked as a closer, but he's got an ERA north of 4.00 over the last four years.

So yeah. The Royals. The good news for the White Sox is that they'll get to play this team 19 times in 2019 — even if they no longer employ Crown Killer extraordinaire Matt Davidson — and along with the rebuilding Detroit Tigers and not super threatening Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians higher up the division's totem pole, the opportunities for a still-growing team to gather some victories won't exactly be scarce.

2018 record: 58-104, fifth place in AL Central

Offseason additions: Brad Boxberger, Martin Maldonado, Billy Hamilton, Terrance Gore, Chris Owings, Jake Diekman

Offseason departures: Alcides Escobar, Jason Hammel

X-factor: Adalberto Mondesi didn't exactly blow the doors off Major League Baseball last season, but he had a nice second half. Extrapolate those post All-Star break numbers to a full 162 games, and you get a .286/.318/.517 slash line with 33 home runs. Not bad considering the guy he'll be replacing as the full-time shortstop, Alcides Escobar, had just 36 home runs in his eight years as a Royal.

Projected lineup:

1. Adalberto Mondesi, SS
2. Whit Merrifield, 2B
3. Alex Gordon, LF
4. Jorge Soler, DH
5. Ryan O'Hearn, 1B
6. Hunter Dozier, 3B
7. Brian Goodwin, RF
8. Martin Maldonado, C
9. Billy Hamilton, CF

Projected rotation:

1. Danny Duffy (if and when healthy)
2. Brad Keller
3. Ian Kennedy
4. Jakob Junis
5. Jorge Lopez

Prediction: Fifth place in AL Central, no playoffs

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White Sox tab Carlos Rodon as Opening Day starter

White Sox tab Carlos Rodon as Opening Day starter

The first man to throw a pitch for the 2019 Chicago White Sox will be Carlos Rodon.

A little more than a week out from the start of the regular season, manager Rick Renteria announced Monday that Rodon will get the ball for the South Siders when they take on the Kansas City Royals on March 28 in the Show Me State.

Not only will this be the first Opening Day start for the 26-year-old lefty, but it will be the first start he's made in April since 2016. Injuries and the recovery from them have delayed Rodon's season debut until June each of the last two years. The 2019 campaign is a pivotal one for Rodon, who finally enters a season in good health with the chance to show the White Sox he can pitch consistently over the course of an entire season.

And consistency was the issue in 2018. After Rodon returned from shoulder surgery in June, he had stretches where he looked like an ace in the making and stretches where he looked far from someone who could top the White Sox rotation of the future. He had a brilliant two-month stretch in July and August, posting a 1.84 ERA over nine starts. But he finished the season poorly, with a 9.22 ERA in six September starts.

"For a lack of a better term, I s**t my pants," Rodon told Our Chuck Garfien last month. "It seems like it always happens. Right in the middle of August and July, I get on a good run and then I s**t my pants."

Rodon has had mixed results this spring. In three outings, he's got a 5.11 ERA with eight strikeouts, four walks and three home runs allowed in 12.1 innings. He made one start against the Royals during the 2018 season, allowing only two runs in six innings despite surrendering five hits and five walks.

As for how the White Sox rotation will stack up after Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Ivan Nova are locks to make the rotation. The fifth spot is up for grabs but seems likely to go to Ervin Santana, who was signed to a minor league deal early in spring training. General manager Rick Hahn raised the possibility last week that if Santana wins the job but isn't quite ready for the start of the regular season, the White Sox schedule could allow them to only use four starting pitchers for a little while. We'll see if that's how it plays out.

After opening the season with a three-game series over four days in Kansas City, the White Sox travel to Cleveland for two games in three days against the division-rival Indians. The home opener comes April 4 against the visiting Seattle Mariners, the start of a three-game series over the course of four days on the South Side.

Rodon will be the fifth different pitcher to make the Opening Day start for the White Sox in the last five years. James Shields took the ball last year, succeeding Jose Quintana (2017), Chris Sale (2016) and Jeff Samardzija (2015).

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